The prevention of addiction is one of the four pillars of the National Strategy on Drug and Addiction Policy. Measures for addiction prevention are the responsibility of the federal and Länder ministries, the municipalities, the Federal Centre for Health and Education (BZgA) and the self-governed bodies for social insurance. They all share responsibility for, and fund the implementation of, drug prevention activities. Federal framework recommendations fall within the scope of the German Prevention Health Care Act (Präventionsgesetz, PrävG), which has been in force since 2015. This act provides for cooperation between insurance providers, the government and any other relevant bodies, under the umbrella of the National Prevention Conference.
Prevention interventions encompass a wide range of approaches, which are complementary. Environmental and universal strategies target entire populations, selective prevention targets vulnerable groups that may be at greater risk of developing substance use problems and indicated prevention focuses on at-risk individuals.
In Germany, environmental prevention measures focus on restricting smoking in public places, banning sales of tobacco products and alcohol to minors, enforcing punishment for driving under the influence of psychoactive substances and implementing police measures to reduce the availability of illicit drugs in general.
School-based prevention activities address mainly alcohol, tobacco and cannabis. In addition to information provision, these activities promote life skills and encourage students to think critically about drug use and to develop their own values. Studies on the Kindergarten programme Papilio suggest that it contributes to improving prosocial behaviour and reducing behavioural problems among pre-school children. Klasse2000 is widely implemented in German primary and special needs schools, and has been found to have a positive influence on the health behaviour of children up to 3 years. In vocational training settings, a prevention programme, Prev@WORK, was developed to promote responsible substance use behaviours among young people. Other school-based prevention programmes, such as Unplugged, are also implemented in Germany. Prevention programmes oriented towards families aim to increase parenting skills, build the protective role played by the family and strengthen the basic life skills of the children. Several programmes can be accessed in the national Grüne Liste, an online registry connected with the Xchange registry of the European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Addiction.
Selective prevention interventions in Germany include TAKE, a project developed in Baden-Württemberg to provide addiction prevention for adolescents and (young) adults in the setting of electronic music events; it is evaluated by the Stuttgart Institute for Applied Social Sciences (IfaS). Another intervention is the online self-test ‘speed check’, which has been available since 2018 and provides an anonymous and quality-assured personal risk profile for amphetamine and methamphetamine use. The self-test provides an indication of substance dependency and encourages a critical evaluation of the use and possible cessation of amphetamine and methamphetamine.
Indicated prevention programmes in Germany target children and adolescents with behavioural disorders and children in families affected by drug dependency. The new joint project IMAC MIND, located at the intersection between prevention and treatment, aims to identify the emergence of addiction disorders and improve diagnostic procedures. Several online programmes in the field of indicated prevention have been developed.